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Since the release of DG+Design’s documentary film, Front Range Change, Colorado has continued its march toward a cleaner energy future, prompting a revisit of the state’s clean energy transition.
A Bit of Background on Colorado’s Energy Transition
Colorado has been on the cutting edge of clean energy policy adoption since it passed the nation’s first renewable portfolio standard (RPS) through a ballot initiative in 2004. The initial RPS was followed by several legislative increases under the Ritter administration to get to 30 percent by 2020. Then, the last decade saw sweeping policy under the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act (2010) and the Colorado Energy Plan (2018) to retire coal plants in favor of natural gas and renewable energy.
Just before the debut of Front Range Change at the Lyons International Film Festival, Colorado’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, announced its plan to be 100 percent carbon free by 2050 and emit 80 percent less carbon by 2030. The announcement was groundbreaking and Xcel claimed to be the “first major U.S electricity provider with a vision to serve customers with 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050”.
Let’s review Colorado’s progress over the past year and continue this story beyond the scope of Front Range Change. Here are some of the notable updates:
Governor Polis Unveils Path to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2040
In May 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a suite of bills on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and emissions with an overarching goal for the state’s electricity grid to be 100 percent renewable by 2040.
Legislation included an expansion of the community solar project capacity limit to 5 megawatts, and an option up to 10 megawatts (MW) in 2023. The state’s electric vehicle tax credit was also extended.
More Coal Plants Set to Close in Colorado
The Clean Air Clean Jobs Act and The Colorado Energy Plan set in motion the retirement planning for a handful of coal power plants across the state, representing 702 and 660 MW of capacity, respectively.
Since Front Range Change, other coal reductions are taking shape. Most recently, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced that it would close coal power plants across New Mexico and Colorado. For Colorado’ that means the retirement of Craig Station (below), a 1,285 MW plant in the northwestern part of the state.
Colorado Becomes Zero-Emission Vehicle State
In August 2019, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved a standard that requires at least 5 percent of automobile manufacturers vehicles to be electric. It might not seem like a huge step, but it does push the state forward for electric vehicle adoption.
Ball and DaVita Pledge 100 Percent Renewable Energy
The two corporations are some of the largest in Colorado and their carbon footprint reduction will certainly make an impact.
DaVita expects to procure 100 percent renewable energy by 2022. The company is working with Longroad Energy on wind and solar virtual power purchase agreements (PPAs) in Texas. Ball Corporation is using the same framework to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of 2021.
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